Bad Moon on the Rise
Quest 13 - 05/15/11

From the Journal of Jerath Adler, Jr.

There is now no doubt in my mind that the battle between good and evil, light and dark, is a never-ending quest that we all face on a daily basis. I had pushed this revelation away for months, striving to believe that simply being a good man or woman would be enough to hold off the forces of darkness. But no – I have been a fool. It is a bloody battle. A war. With winners and losers. And if only I had known, I might have been able to save my friend, Von Oppenheimer, who has now paid the ultimate price, as darkness seems to have finally taken his soul…

We had all retired to our rooms for the night after hearing the words that a Witch Hunter was in town looking for someone of Oppenheimer’s description. We decided that leaving Stromdorf sooner rather than later would probably be a good idea, and went to bed knowing that we’d be leaving this place behind for good in the morning.

But the morning did not come. Instead, I dreamt — err, awoke? — to a very strange sight in my room. Furgil was still soundly sleeping in his bed, but Oppenheimer was not. Rather, he was standing next to the far wall, scrawling strange symbols all over it from top to bottom. As my eyes adjusted, I noticed the writing was not from a quill or ink, but from what looked like blood. I noticed Oppenheimer’s hands were also covered in what looked like blood. I attempted to raise from the bed, but simply could not. I could not even speak to attempt to communicate with him. As sleep began to take hold yet again, I studied the symbols best I could, hoping to glean some of their importance, only to feel a deep chill pass through my spine, as if these symbols should not be seen by any mortal man.

The next morning finally came, and I was truly awoken by Oppenheimer this time. I was about to tell him about my strange dream, when I realized that what I had dreamt had actually happened. Our room was filled with the terrible symbols, made all the more frightening by the ascending green hue of the terrible moon, Moorslieb. I agreed to help Oppenheimer clean the symbols from the wall while Furgil continued to slumber (probably too much ale the night before), and before too long, we were finished.

One of the signs that I should have taken more notice of at the time was the way Oppenheimer continued to stare at me, as if I were wearing a pink frilly dress. And anytime I would try to make eye contact with him, he would turn away quickly, never allowing me to see what he was seeing. I passed it off, shrugging it aside, but I should have confronted him about it then and there, before things could get worse.

Downstairs at breakfast, Elenore and Loreli asked about Oppenheimer’s hands (which he had cleaned and bandaged), and Oppenheimer did not tell them about what happened in the room. I followed his lead, figuring he would tell them at the appropriate time, whenever he fully understood what had transpired.

Furgil soon joined us as well, and we talked about our plans for the day. Elenore would go to the docks to talk to Rodrigo about possible travel to Ubersreik (now that he had acquired a job as a boatman), Furgil and I would go to the Doctor’s to situate Tarth for proper care while we were away, and Oppenheimer wanted to see the Priest one last time. It turned out that he had gone to see Gottschalk last night after he heard news of the Witch Hunter, and hoped that the Priest would be willing to vouch for his character. However, it seemed that that discussion did not go well, and the Priest told Oppenheimer never to return to the Church and to leave the town at once. Why he wanted to go back again today was beyond me, but again, I figured it might have something to do with the strange symbols, so it made sense…

And sadly, that would be the last time I ever saw Von Oppenheimer.

Furgil and I traveled to the Doctor’s office to made sure Tarth was comfortable. It was there that we decided it might be best to leave Furgil there to arrange the travel of her body, and go with her on the road for safety. After saying goodbye, I then met up with Elenore, who informed me that Rodrigo could not leave the city today, so she arranged a carriage to take us across the West Bridge up to Ubersreik. It was already at the Inn packing our belongings, and would then meet us by the West Gate in the afternoon once it had completed that task.

That sounded like a good plan, so with some free time, I decided to do some quick shopping for supplies, including getting my armor repaired. It felt good to be finally leaving this city, and I looked forward to the fresh air that would await us on our travels. I wanted to shake the evil feeling from this morning – simply pretend it didn’t happen. Move on and race away from whatever it was that had haunted us last night.

But as I tried to run from the darkness, it was slowly devouring Oppenheimer, and from what Elenore and Loreli would tell me afterwards, he had already been consumed. After situating the carriage at the Inn, Elenore teamed up with Loreli and Oppenheimer who were on their way to the Church. As they walked, they saw the form of Matthias Krueger – a Witch Hunter known for his “drastic” methods – coming towards them. Luckily, he had not seen them yet, so Elenore led them through a number of back alleys to the Church to finish their business and be on their way.

Upon entering and sitting at the Church, Gottschalk, in mid sermon, broke off his words, grabbed his enormous Hammer, and pointed directly at Oppenheimer, saying, “How dare you come here!” It was then that Oppenheimer stood, approached the Priest calmly, and raised his hand towards him. Elenore and Loreli had no idea what he was doing, and for good reason, for that’s the moment an eyeball suddenly appeared in the palm of his hand.

The congregation screamed in fright, and Gottschalk pushed his way towards him, but it would be too late. A blue beam of light shot forth from the eyeball, hitting the Priest in the head, disorienting him. He tried to steady himself, but began screaming, and within moments, the flesh that was covering his entire body began to tear away from the muscles, and his form burst into flames.

I stare at these words, and cannot believe this story, but Elenore and Loreli swear on their lives. Oppenheimer had been completely taken by the darkness, and he had killed the head Priest of the Church of Sygmar. His remains were simply a pile of goo at the base of the alter.

Loreli agreed that it wasn’t Oppenheimer in control of himself at that moment, but knew she had a responsibility to take him down if he posed a threat to the rest of the people in the Church. She tried to make her way to him, but both her and Elenore were trampled by the stampeding crowds. By the time Loreli could reach him, Oppenheimer had disappeared (using his magics to whisk him away more than likely.)

There was now no time to lose. It would only be a mere matter of moments before the Witch Hunter would descend upon the Church, and anybody who had ever related to Oppenheimer would be “questioned,” so they raced to the Carriage, where I calmly awaiting, making small talk with the driver. We could hear screaming in the distance, and he seemed somewhat distraught by it, but I assured him everything was probably fine and to stay clam.

Which is about the time that Elenore and Loreli showed up. When they informed me that Oppenheimer would not be joining us, we all got in the carriage and headed out of town on the Western Road.

We didn’t say much as we double-timed it to Ubersreik. Although they told an incredible tale, deep in my heart I knew it to be true. Oppenheimer had been corrupted and taken by the darkness that haunts each of us. He would never be the same again…

But other matters suddenly took precedent, when we came upon another broken carriage in the road. It bared a noble crest on the side of it, belonging to the Saponatheins. Since Elenore boasted the most nobility amongst us, we sent her out to speak to the Gentlemen in the cart, who happened to be Graf Von Saponathein. He was on his way to Ubersreik for a Masquerade, but had met some resistance when his coach had broken on the way.

While Elenore continued to speak with him, Loreli and I helped the driver repair the broken part. She learned that he and his family are trying to expand their land in Ubersreik, and that the Masquerade is somehow tied into all of that. After we finished with the work, he seemed very impressed with the “help,” and offered us 150 silver to accompany him the rest of the way to Ubersreik. Elenore agreed on our behalf, and we were off.

Once back in the Carriage, I revealed my suspicions about this Masquerade. Gottschalk had told us that our penance for digging in the Church would be to stop the evil behind the “masks.” It made a lot of sense that this might very well be the “masks” he was referring to.

So onward we went, until we again, reached another hindrance. This time, in the form of two men blocking the road. They claimed to be Road Warrens, wanting a “toll” for use of the road. Elenore attempted to bargain with them, but they would not budge on their ludicrous amount of 5 Gold Pieces. From inside the Carriage, Loreli and I readied our weapons, even though we saw that we were clearly outnumbered by other goons in the forest, waiting for their moment to strike.

It seemed as though bloodshed would be inevitable when out of the forest rode a High Elf on horseback. Wearing full breastplate armor and carrying a sword almost as tall as me, he rode up to the men, and confronted them directly. They seemed put off by the sight of the Elf and his sword, and simply wished us a “Good Day!” before running off deep into the forest.

We chose not to give chase, and instead, welcomed this new friend into our group. His name was Taethis Silverleaf, and he was also headed to Ubersreik to see his cousin, Loreth, who runs the salon in town. He agreed to join our party for the time being, and we safely made it to the city by nightfall.

Upon reaching the gates, Graf thanked us for our services, and headed off to rest for the night. Elenore did the same, heading to a slightly nicer area of town, while Loreli and I headed to the Red Moon Inn. Taethis went off to see his cousin, but before long, we all congregated together for dinner. It also happened that Henri was performing tonight at the Inn. The distraction was welcome, but I still couldn’t shake the feeling that something evil was coming for me and my friends…

~ Adler, Jr.

The End of the Storm
Quest 12 - 05/01/11

From the Journal of Jerath Adler, Jr.

The morning came quickly, though there was no sun to greet us. Only rain. More rain. Which seemed at its most intense, if that’s even possible.

We gathered for breakfast before returning to Schulman’s room to see what progress he had made on determining where the final stone may lie. When we reached his room, he looked as if he had not slept, and spoke very quickly. In his estimation, the final stone must be somewhere WITHIN Stromdorf. Each of the other stones were found in the West, the East, and the South, and considering the shape of the region, it made sense that Stromdorf would be the Northern most point.

Schulman again assured us that the Blue Wizard’s College would be more than willing to give us whatever we wanted if we would take it upon ourselves to find this final stone. With this relic fully realized, great advances could be made, and we would be an important part of history. I look back now and realize what ambitious fools we were, but we had no reason not to trust him, so we accepted his terms.

Oppenheimer then recalled seeing the Church of Sygmar struck many times by lightning during our stay in the city, and thought that it might be possible the stone is there. The group concurred, but the fact remained that we simply couldn’t go to the Church of Sygmar and demand to see their Lightning Stone without some proof first. What we needed was a Professor who knew the history of the city.

And it just so happened that there was one Professor in town who owed us a small favor.

The group traveled briskly to the home of the man we had helped a few nights ago with his “dancing” skeleton. He seemed busy when we arrived, but agreed to see us, giving us some of his herbal tea, and got very excited when we mentioned the Lightning Stones. He went on and on about the “Seer Stone,” a stone that allowed people to have visions, some 2500 years ago. The stone was toppled soon afterwards for whatever reason by the people of the town and the Church of Sygmar was built on top of it, never to be heard from again.

It was at this time that Oppenheimer and the Professor had a small spat about the Professor’s ability to speak Elvish (which he could), and we were rushed quickly from his home. There’s no doubt that Oppenheimer has become, in my estimation, a little more unstable during our stay here, though, the storms seem to have that effect on almost everybody.

With our beliefs verified, we walked to the Church of Sygmar, where the head Priest Gottschalk was finishing up a sermon. We waited two hours before getting a chance to speak to him, and when we did, he was not happy to hear our request. In fact, it seemed that wanting to unearth the crypt of the Church to uncover what he viewed as a sacrilegious object was about as bad a request as one could make.

Luckily for us, Elenore seemed to know exactly what to say to calm the Priest’s nerves, and he relented in letting us travel down into the Crypts with him. We couldn’t touch anything in the chamber, but Oppenheimer was somehow able to detect the stone 10-15 feet under the floor of the room. Realizing there was only one chance for his plea to work, Oppenheimer dropped to his knees at the feet of the Priest, and began rapping his head violently against the floor. The rest of us looked at each other, and decided to follow along by also kneeling, hoping to make Oppenheimer’s conviction seem that much more real.

Somehow, it worked, and Gottschalk said that we could dig; however, he could NOT change the fact that this was indeed a truly blasphemous act, and we would ALL be forced to give penance for such actions. We agreed (given no other choice, honestly), and went about gathering the tools necessary to make this as task-less a task as we could. We also made sure to keep our actions as covert as possible from the townspeople, as they wouldn’t take too kindly to us digging in the Church either.

With Furgil’s Dwarven experience, we made quick work of retrieving the stone from the hollowed grounds, and put everything back into place as best we could. We then shuttled the stone back to Inn, where Schulman awaited our entrance. He watched as we joined the final stone to its brethren, the last puzzle piece to a most intriguing puzzle. As we did, I began to notice Schulman’s incredible anxiety and excitement build – perhaps we were making history…

Finally, a fully realized circular stone was created, made up of all of the Lightning Stones. Schulman studied it momentarily, muttering carefully to himself, and then suddenly excused himself from the room to retrieve some “notes.” We all looked to one another, unsure of exactly what to do, when Furgil (making sure that Schulman was outside of ear shot) told us that he overheard what he had been muttering. He had mentioned a “nexus,” and it “being more powerful than ever expected.”

It suddenly dawned on us that Schulman may not simply be gathering “notes,” and we may have just played part in something more sinister than any of us had ever imagined.

Immediately, Elenore, Loreli, and Furgil gave chase to Schulman, while Oppenheimer and I stayed behind to study Schulman’s notes. Oppenheimer couldn’t quite make heads or tails of it, so I ran out to get the Professor with the hopes that he might be kind enough to decipher Schulman’s rantings.

Having learned of their adventures later, I know that Furgil, Elenore, and Loreli had commandeered some horses to chase after Schulman, who was using his abilities as a Blue Wizard to stay far ahead of them. He had already escaped Stromdorf (almost killing a Guard at the gate) and seemed to be heading south. They followed, pushing their horses, until they reached the river. They noticed that Schulman had already been here, killing the boatman and taking one boat downstream. There was a second boat there, in much worse shape, but without another option, it would be there only way to continue after him.

In the meantime, just as I was reaching the Professor’s home, Oppenheimer had discovered the key to Schulman’s plans – he going to open this “Nexus” and use its powers for ungodly things. The Lightning Stones, once assembled, had revealed how and where to do this. Oppenheimer then also discovered a map of where Schulman was going to perform this act and decided to head after him as quickly as the Azure energies could carry him.

Once the Professor had gotten his servant Humphries to retrieve a carriage to take us to the Inn, I showed him the stone, and he began searching through Schulman’s notes for some sign of what this was all about. I noticed Oppenheimer was no longer there, which only raised my level of concern. Turns out that by this time, he was already making his way across the swamps, pursuing our friends and the malicious Wizard.

Paddling their way down river, Furgil, Elenore, and Loreli had to keep bailing the boat of water at the same time (thanks to a number of holes in the rotted wood.) They could see Schulman in the distance, conjuring some spell in the middle of the river. They knew they didn’t have long to stop him, and pushed the boat as hard as they could to get within short bow range.

Suddenly, before their eyes, Oppenheimer flashed aboard Schulman’s boat, looking weary from pushing his body to get him there in time. Schulman took this opportunity to fire a lightning bolt at him, but Oppenheimer was somehow able to diffuse the magic before it hit him.

Then, with perfect aim, Furgil took this opportunity to fire a bolt from their quickly sinking boat, burying it deep within Schulman’s side. Oppenheimer’s distraction had given him the moment he needed, and he had taken it, even if it meant that their boat would sink.

Which it promptly did.

Back in the city, the Professor finally learned of Schulman’s true plan and location. It seemed that the only way to forever close this nexus would be to get the stones to it before it fully opened. I knew not how much time I had left, but quickly ordered Humphries to begin moving the stones out to the carriage with me. And as fate would have it, that’s when Eduardo Rodrigo appeared, and lent us his strength as well. Time was of the essence, because it was around this time that Schulman was attempting to convince Oppenheimer to join him.

Whilst our friends were swimming for their lives, Schulman spoke of the incredible power he was about to realize, and how he and Oppenheimer could share it. I don’t know if this thought was ever truly considered by Oppenheimer, because just as Schulman raised some sort of magic shield, Oppenheimer capsized their boat, and both of them fell into the water!

As they fell in, Furgil had finally made it out, pulling his crossbow out to hopefully get another shot at Schulman, but both he and Oppenheimer were nowhere to be seen. While Furgil waited, Humphries, Rodrigo, and I had finished placing all of the Lightning Stones into the carriage and we took off towards the river!

Suddenly, Schulman’s form burst forth from the river, and he began chanting even more quickly than he had before. However, his words were silenced when Furgil’s shot found its target – deep within Schulman’s skull. The mad Wizard gurgled, and with quick precision, Loreli made her way over to his body, slit his throat, and grabbed his quickly sinking staff. She also tried to grab for an amulet he had been wearing shaped like a “comet,” but it had slipped through her fingers into the darkened waters below…

While it looked like Schulman’s planned opening of the Nexus had been belayed, another catastrophic event was about to occur when a Comet suddenly appeared in the sky, crashing towards their very position.

Riding as hard as we could, we watched as the Comet fell in the distance. We now knew our exact destination, and pushed the horses to go as fast as they would carry us, and then some. Upon seeing the comet, Furgil helped Loreli and Elenore from the waters, while Oppenheimer made his own way from the cold river. Together, they ran, knowing somehow that no distance would be safe from such an object.

From the carriage, I could make them out, four forms, running for their lives.

Contrary to what some may say, the moments before you die don’t slow, but rather, they speed along, with not a moment to say your final prayers.

The comet struck the river with such ferocity that the ground shook, knocking everyone over. The horses buckled, and we quickly removed ourselves from the carriage. Then, the waters from the river rose to such heights that even the walls of Stromdorf itself could not have defended them, and we were swept over, our bodies like straw in the wind. We were thrown about, our bodies pushed, pulled, bruised, and finally, left to die…

But we did not die that day. I remember opening my eyes to see something I had not seen in what felt like years – the sun. The clouds were beginning to part, and behind them was this most welcome sight indeed. We took a quick inventory of everyone, and it looked as if everyone had survived the tidal wave (including Oppenheimer, who seemed to be hurt the most.) I tended to him as best I could (considering the circumstances) and we made our way back to town. On our way, we were sure to gather the dead boatman for burial in the Garden.

Our uplifted spirits did not last long, however, for upon arriving at the Gates, we were not met like heroes like we once were. Rather, it seemed that our story was rather absurd to the people of Stromdorf. Kessler all but wrote us off, and the Priest could not forgive our blasphemy. In fact, according to him, our penance was to go to Ubersreik and “stop the evil behind the masks.” If we did not choose to do this, then we would be forever damned.

After having gone through so much to rid this city of evil, it was now simply seeming like we had overstayed our welcome. Dinner that night at the Inn wasn’t much better either, as we listened to city dwellers lament at the end of the rain, for this would cause all sorts of farming and fishing problems, not to mention the Ale! We were even informed that there was a Witch Hunter in town, who was out for someone matching Oppenheimer’s description. We quickly decided that leaving this town is in our best interests, especially upon hearing the news that the bridges had been repaired.

As I finish up this entry, I find myself with a heavy heart. Though I know we have done much good and I, myself, have found a new path in life, I worry that there are darker forces at work, leading us to our inevitable ends. I will resist them with as much force as I can muster, but what can one man do against Fate?

~ Adler, Jr.

Five Things I Learned about Trolls
Quest 11 - 04/03/11

From the Journal of Jerath Adler, Jr.

In my travels, I have met some incredibly strong creatures, some incredibly smart creatures, and even some incredibly beautiful creatures. But thus far, I have yet to meet one as dumb as a Troll. Please note: I have the utmost respect for a troll’s ability to rip you limb from limb, but as I look back at this past day’s events, I can’t help but recollect the five things I learned about Trolls:

1) Trolls seem to always be motivated by food.

After Furgil’s daring escape from his bonds and subsequent killing of our guards, he and Elenore had traveled up into the farmhouse, where they discovered we were indeed being held captive by the night goblins in the Baumer Farmstead. Upon a second trip upstairs, Furgil found all of our clothes, weapons, and items in the kitchen. He sent them down to us piece by piece, and then continued spying around the building, looking for anything that would help us gain the upper hand against a foe that clearly had us outnumbered, and at the moment, outsmarted. He found a stairway going up to a second floor (with three well armored goblins at the top) and a pantry door, mysteriously blocked with an enormous cupboard. Behind it, all Furgil could hear was the sound of snoring.

He came back down to relate this to all of us, and immediately, we surmised that it was possible that a troll may be sitting behind that pantry door, and that that troll may be our ticket out of here. We also gathered that Gobsmite may be sleeping on the second floor, thus the guards on duty. Oppenheimer quickly stood, and said that he had a plan, but it would require finding out whether or not a troll was indeed behind that pantry door. Loreli agreed to accompany him back up the stairs while the rest of us waited below.

What happened to them up there was related to us a few moments later when they returned. Together, they had moved the cupboard blocking the pantry door, and opened it slightly, unleashing a terrible stench that brought Oppenheimer to vomit up whatever was left from last night’s meal onto the floor. He regained his composure, and they continued to open the door. They peered behind it, and as expected, there was an enormous troll, sitting, cramped, confused, and surrounded by dead bodies and bones. Quickly, they closed the door, re-barricaded it with the cupboard (barely remaining quiet), and returned to the basement to discuss the plan.

Oppenheimer seemed convinced that the troll favored neither side, and would only be motivated by food. He then motioned towards the three dead goblin bodies we had in the basement, and asked if I would be willing to chop them up to use as bait to lure the troll from the room. I agreed, and after a little while, gave them a number of body parts that only a troll would find appetizing.

So, the plan would be for Loreli and Oppenheimer to unleash the troll, get it to follow them up the stairs, and have it hopefully attack every goblin it came across (including Gobsmite.) At the very least, the troll would cause enough confusion to allow us to escape, giving us an opportunity to get the two lightning stones and get out of here.

Once again, Loreli and Oppenheimer went up into the kitchen. Just before they had planned to move the cupboard, they realized they may want hiding places when the troll came out to keep them safe from its rampage. The cupboard blocking the pantry door seemed large enough, and they opened it… only to find it filled with rocks! The rocks poured out onto the floor, and the goblins on the stairway were quickly alerted to their presence. Loreli and Oppenheimer then moved as quickly as they could to get the pantry door open, and when they did, Oppenheimer began pelting dead goblin parts at the troll, which he gladly began eating. The plan seemed to be working until the troll decided he wanted something a little fresher, and took a swipe at Oppenheimer. Luckily, Oppenheimer was able to get out of the way while Loreli was able to kill one of the advancing goblins with a crossbow bolt.

So there they were. A troll on one side of them and two goblins on the other, trapped in the dead center. Luckily, as we had hoped, it turned out the goblins weren’t too happy to see the troll, and they took off running, one out the front door and the other back up the stairs. By this time, the rest of us were beginning to emerge from the basement, but realized it may have been too soon as the beast took a swipe at all of us, looking for its next meal. Oppenheimer told us to all get back down into the basement, and as we did, more goblins showed up, shocked to see that the troll had escaped.

With not a moment to spare, Oppenheimer was able to use the his magics to shoot himself from one side of the room to the other, making it so that he was no longer in the center in the room. Rather, the goblins were now the troll’s next meals, and he went to work on them immediately, taking one and popping its head off to drink its innards. I didn’t see this, but I can imagine it’s probably not something you’d ever really want to see.

At this sight, the remaining goblins once again fled, and Oppenheimer was the last one standing in the room with the troll. He ran for the stairway leading to the second floor, and beckoned the troll to follow, but alas, the troll only wanted whatever was easiest to feast on, and going upstairs was not not going to be the easiest when there were dozens of goblins running around in the courtyard.

This brings me to the second thing I learned about trolls…

2) Trolls are also sometimes motivated by anger.

Seeing that he was losing the troll’s attention, Oppenheimer pulled out his crossbow, and shot the monstrous creature! It roared with anger and went right after him, as he had hoped. He ran up the stairs, and the troll dutifully followed. During this time, the rest of us got out of the basement, and we secured the kitchen. I took a moment to heal Eduardo Rodrigo, who was still feeling the effects of the battle on the hillside. We then listened, to see if Oppenheimer’s insane plan was taking shape.

At the top of the stairs, there was a door, which was locked and barricaded. Behind it, Oppenheimer could hear the voice of the Shaman, meaning he WAS in there! The troll had finally made it to the top of the stairs as well, and Oppenheimer knew he only had one chance to get this right. He goaded the beast on, and it started to run right at him!

Which brings me to the third thing I learned about trolls…

3) Trolls are not the brightest creatures.

Just as the troll was about to reach him, Oppenheimer jumped out of the way at the very last second to watch as it collided with the door! Such weight and force would surely break any well barricaded door, right? Well, sadly, the door did not shatter, and the troll looked at it, stunned. Oppenheimer was sure that the creature would continue to attack the door, but that brings me to the fourth thing I learned about trolls…

4) Trolls are controlled by NO ONE.

Once again seeking out the easiest meals, which in this case would be the goblins still running wildly around the courtyard, the troll left Oppenheimer and the door alone, and proceeded outside to play with the green skins. A few moments later, Oppenheimer returned down the stairs, and we watched as the troll hunted down goblin after goblin, spilling their blood and eating them like a child might cherish watermelon on a hot summer day.

We immediately recognized that we needed another plan if were to get the lightning stones and defeat Gobsmite. We knew at that very moment that Gobsmite was still in the farmhouse, and if we couldn’t get to him, he couldn’t get to us either, which led us to our next decision: burn down the farmhouse.

We proceeded to gather tinder and wood from the main floor, during which time Loreli discovered a sword with the word “Acitus” inscribed upon its blade. None of us knew what it meant, but the sword seemed like a beautiful piece of work, and thus, Loreli decided to keep it.

We finished gathering what we would need to burn down the farmhouse, and started the fire. Oppenheimer used his powers over the winds to feed the flames, and before long, fire was slowly beginning to spread.

Seeing as how we could no longer stay here, we decided to sneak over to the tower, where we could get a better view of the courtyard. As we exited the farmhouse, we tried to be as stealthy as we could to not draw the notice of either the goblins or the troll, but the rain had never been SO fierce. Suddenly, there was a lightning strike so close that we could all feel our hairs standing on end. A foreboding feeling of evil passed through the group, and we found ourselves too spooked to do much of anything. We finally made it all to the base of the tower, but that’s when things went from bad to worse.

Gobsmite appeared on the roof of the farmhouse. He must’ve exited his room through a window, and climbed up there, giving him a great vantage point from which to fire upon us on the ground below. Oppenheimer quickly too cover in the pig pen, and I had planned to follow when there was a green flash and a sharp pain passed through my body. I could feel every inch of me tingling, and I fell to the ground. The shaman laughed, and continued to fire at us from his safe perch up high.

Finally, Loreli had had enough, and using her growing strength, she pulled out her crossbow and took a shot at him. He was hit, and it threw him off balance, but only for a moment. He returned fire at her, and there was another green flash! She slumped against the tower door, but seemed okay, complaining of a terrible ache in her head.

There was no doubt that we had been pushed to our limit. After last night’s battle, and all that had happened today, we weren’t going to be able to take on Gobsmite unless we could find his weakness. We all looked to each other, hoping that someone would come up with something brilliant, when we finally had a stroke of good luck – out of a heavens, a bolt of lightning shot down at Gobsmite, the lightning stone drawing it to him, and he was struck!

His body fell from the roof into a pile of dung below, and Loreli (in a fervor) ran up with her new blade drawn and stabbed the shaman until dead. Just as we were about to celebrate, his body exploded, covering us all in goblin guts. This didn’t bother me as much since I was already covered in their blood and entrails, but the group’s feeling of disgust didn’t last too long as the rain quickly washed it all away.

Oppenheimer then grabbed the “brain stone” that had been sitting on the shaman’s head, and we all made our way back towards the burning farmhouse. Unfortunately, the same luck that had brought Gobsmite down then struck Oppenheimer, and lightning coursed through his body. He looked a little worse for wear, but was able to continue on, deciding it best to just leave the stone out in the courtyard. While this was happening, Furgil was able to make his way back into the partially burning farmhouse to recover the second lighting stone that Gobsmite had been carried around upon the previous night.

He brought it out and threw it into the courtyard with the first lighting stone. At this point, we decided to head to the barn to recoup and decide our next steps. This finally brings me to the fifth thing I learned about trolls…

5) Trolls ARE killable (but only in very extreme situations.)

Inside the barn, I tended to Oppenheimer’s lightning wounds, and the group wondered what to do about the troll. Do we let it live? Do we attempt to kill it despite its regenerative properties? As the questioning continued, it occurred to me that the lightning had been an powerful ally, and could be again! I turned to the group and suggested that if we could get the troll to get the smaller lightning stone, then it would continue to get struck by lightning until dead. Everyone seemed shocked by the suggestion, everyone except Furgil that is, who LOVED the plan, and joyfully went about emptying out a goblin corpse to fit the smaller lightning stone inside of it.

Once finished, he went out, got the troll’s attention, and hefted the body at it. The troll didn’t think twice (probably didn’t even think once) and ate the morsel whole. Furgil got back to the barn in time to watch the troll get struck once… and then again… before finally succumbing to the effects of the lightning damage to its body. It was dead.

The remainder of the day was somewhat of a blur. I recall Elenore and Loreli talking a young 6-year-old girl (named “Flea”) out of the well at the farm, while Furgil put goblin heads on spikes to scare away any goblins who might decide to come back to this place. We also made sure to give hay to the remaining livestock, and then went about fastening the two lightning stones to a cart for our return trip to the Ackerland farm.

So, with the stones in hand, the troll dead, and our new friend Flea at our side, we made our way out into the rain. We finally reached the farmstead, where we left Flea with the family (for her own good), and built a sturdier sled to bring the stones back to Stromdorf. I made sure to ask the Ackerlands about Bieber, but alas, they had not seen him since he left with us the previous night. My only hope is that he may have returned to Stromdorf. I would not want his blood on my hands, not after he had done so much for our dear friend, Tarth.

The trip back to Stromdorf was uneventful except for the occasional lightning strike. We took the stones directly to Schulman, and his eyes lit up at the sight. He told us to come back later after he’d had a chance to study all of the stones together. We decided this was as good a time as any to see Adler, who was looking much better these days, and he gave us the remainder of our pay. I once again asked about Bieber, but they had not seen him either. My concern grew, but I knew that if any man could survive out there, it was him.

Upon our return to Schulman’s room, we found him somewhat agitated. It seemed that in his estimation, there was STILL one more stone to be found. He showed us how all of the stones he currently had fit together, and it did indeed seem like there may be a missing piece. Being so CLOSE to solving the puzzle, Schulman begged us to find the remaining stone, and told us the Wizard’s College would be very very thankful to us for our assistance. He told us to sleep on it, and in the morning, he’d have more details for where the final stone may lie…

- Adler, Jr.

Gobblin' Goblins
Quest 10 - 03/20/11

From the Journal of Jerath Adler, Jr.

The plan seemed like a good one. Furgil up in the perch with Oppenheimer below, poised to react to anything that Furgil might see. The rest of us, hiding in the barn, ready to face off with our surprised enemies. It would have worked too. And if it had, we might not find ourselves now trapped without our clothes or our weapons. But alas, I’ve jumped too far ahead, as I sometimes do …

Just a few short hours ago, Elenore, Loreli, Rodrigo, and I watched for a signal to come, and it wasn’t before long that we got JUST the signal. We watched a flash of light cross the night’s sky, and land directly in something with a squishy splat and the holler of something none-to-pleased. We jumped into action to find that a particularly nasty set of night goblins had snuck up on us without our notice to steal the livestock, and were now trying to escape after Oppenheimer shot one square in the ass! Turns out that they had attempted to knock him out with those poisoned pods of theirs, but Oppenheimer was strong enough to resist it (using the mouth guard prepared by Elenore.)

And so, our foes were on the run! Furgil shot another from the tower using his trusty nighvision while the rest of us tried to keep up with the group. Loreli was unfortunately tripped up immediately while Elenore went to get Bieber who was still resting in the house. Oppenheimer, Furgil, and I took flight, but the physical strain was too much for me. Only a few moments later, we found ourselves well behind the pack, and decided to reconvene before heading after them with Bieber’s skills as a tracker. I recovered Oppenheimer’s boot for him (it had gotten lodged in a particularly muddy spot), and off we went.

We tried to keep pace with them through the night, and soon came upon the body of one of them. We recognized it immediately as the one Oppenheimer had shot with his crossbow bolt. It looked as if his companions didn’t like being slowed down by him so they stabbed him through the head with a spear. We did make sure to check the body for anything that might help us, and came across a filthy piece of parchment labeled Baumer Farmstead. It looked like an overhead map of a farming community, but was clearly also marked with goblin writing, making notes of different areas. Could this possibly be their base of operations?

We continued on. Bieber was still moving slowly due to the effects of the poisonous pod, but did a nice job keeping up with the group’s tracks. Before long, we found ourselves on a hillside looking down into the very farmstead illustrated in the map. And yes, it was full of goblins. In fact, from our perch, we watched as a particularly nasty goblin, called Gobsmite (who looked to be wearing a lightning stone as a crown, while at the same time being carried around on a second lightning stone) was arguing with a nearby goblin. Suddenly, a green bolt of lightning fired from his fingertip, extinguishing all life from his kin. There was no doubt that Gobsmite was a Goblin Shaman – a terrible turn of events indeed.

Seeing as how we were easily outnumbered, we decided to wait until daybreak to attack the night goblin compound. At that point, we’d have the advantage of the light of day, which would act as a disadvantage for them (plus, many of them would be sleeping, which would give us the element of surprise.) We rested in a shepard’s lean-to, hoping to save our strength for a few hours before the sun would rise in the rainy sky, but sadly, that was not to be had.

Gobsmite had small groups of goblins patrolling the surrounding hills, more than likely looking for us. We attempted to hide in the small lean-to, but their eyesight was too keen for our stealth, and they were on us quickly! The initial group was made up of 5 goblins on foot and an additional goblin on what I was told is a squig. Like a bouncing ball with ferocious teeth, not even the goblin on board could control the creature. It lunged at Oppenheimer, missing by very little, while the rest of us went to fight off the rest of them. Rodrigo and I took the front line as Loreli shot an arrow into the leaping squig. I could hear Beiber’s arrows and Furgil’s bolts firing as I tried to guard the group the best I could. I needed to keep these goblins far enough away so that everyone could make their shots before they’d be forced to go hand to hand.

The squig lunged again, this time for Furgil, but again missed. Using its blind spot, Elenore and Loreli teamed up to finish the beast off, but in the confusion, Rodrigo fell to the onslaught of goblins, and Furgil jumped into his position to hold off the group. Together, we slowly widdled down the remaining group, and just when we thought it might be over, we spied 12 more goblins coming up the hill towards us with clubs and nets. Again, luck was not on our side.

Being in the front line, both Furgil and I were netted almost immediately. With Rodrigo still down, our numbers were dwindling. I could see the group attempting to fight back, but frustration and exhaustion were setting in. Luckily, Loreli made a key shot, killing the last of the first bunch, giving Furgil and I a chance to rip out of the nets that had fallen on top of us. I quickly healed Rodrigo, but in doing so, I turned my back on Furgil, who was immediately struck and knocked out!

It was a fast back and forth fight as we attempted to hold our ground. If we could hold off their numbers, then we stood a chance. While everyone continued to fire their bows and bolts, widdling down the remaining goblins, Elenore took the opportunity to net a goblin, hoping to possibly question him about their farmstead. But just as we’re about to take another moment to breath, we spied two more groups of six goblins advancing on our position. I revived Furgil before they arrived, and as a quick retaliation, he stabbed the netted goblin in the eye, killing it quickly, albeit painfully.

The new goblins were feistier than the last, having watched a dwarf kill their comrade. Loreli was knocked out by their clubs, soon followed by Oppenheimer. I wanted to tend to them, but my need was to guard those still standing. We continued to fight back, the rain continuing to wash the goblin blood from our skin, and with one final stab, I finished off the last of the lot. Upon quick addition, I realized we had already done away with 30 goblins and one squig. The number was astounding to ponder, but there was no time to do so, for still, 2 more groups of 6 were approaching our position.

The remaining members of our party looked sick at the sight. How many more could there possibly be? Do we attempt to make a stand, or run? Do we leave our fallen comrades, or attempt to defend them until we too fall?

Looking into their faces, I realized I could not – would not – leave our fallen friends behind. I revived Loreli but had not the time to bring Oppenheimer to consciousness. The fight was on.

Rodrigo and I clashed into their groups, giving Bieber, Loreli, and Elenore a chance to fire on them. Two goblins fell quickly, before a blow was struck to the back of my head and everything went dark…

I can’t tell how long it was before I was awoken, but I was in immense pain. It was dark, and I seemed to be sitting on a stone floor without my clothes or my weapons, my hands and feet bound. Needless to say, we had lost and the enemy had captured us. After so much blood on our hands, we had accomplished next to nothing. However, we were still alive, and that meant that there was still much we could do.

As my eyes adjusted to the darkness, I could see the entire party there, all except Bieber. I muttered to Elenore, and she said that he had run off after Rodrigo and I had fallen. She hoped he was heading for help, because it was at that moment on the hillside that both she and Loreli had also given up, resulting in our capture and placement here.

Suddenly, the door to the room swung open, and daylight poured in, blinding us. In came a number of goblins, one of which was the Goblin Shaman himself – Gobsmite. He attempts to ascertain why we are here, and even when we’d given him the straight answer, he didn’t believe us, and poked us continually with some sort of “pain” stick.

We realized there was nothing we could say, and he sensed that we wouldn’t be able to give him anything else, so he left us to “stew.” As he left us guarded by 3 goblins, our deaths seemed eminent. But before long, I noticed that Furgil was fidgeting back and forth, and suddenly, he was free of his ropes! Somehow he had grabbed a blade that had been dropped by one of our goblin captors. Now equipped with the blade, he stabbed one of the goblins in the eye (killing him instantly), and slit the throats of the remaining two sitting across the room from us. They didn’t even know what was coming.

Furgil then went to work freeing the rest of us, and I attempted to heal those in the room with what little I had. Oppenheimer and Rodrigo seemed the worst for wear, so I tried to bandage them the best I could. While I did this, Furgil and Elenore went to scout the room above by making their way up a barrel chute. Turned out we were in a basement of some sort.

They came back shortly thereafter to tell us that we are indeed in the farmstead, and the chute leads into the kitchen area of the main building. There are goblins around, but since it’s daytime, we may have the advantage, but we’d need a plan, and we’d need our weapons. We still don’t know how many of them are left, or where Gobsmite is, but we what we did know is that we couldn’t leave here without finishing him and his horde off once and for all.

The Storm Rages...

After the bodies are all down, we exit the crypt, with Grabbe alive but weak. Waltrout holds him up carefully as they walk. All the bones in the Ossuary are jumbled together with the crows picking at them. It is a sacrilege, and I believe all of us feel so. Grabbe and Waltrout moan in pain at the sight. The Lightning Stone lies in the yard as well.

Adler offers to attend to Grabbe’s wounds, but he wants to heal in his own way. Instead, he asks Adler to make sure that the bodies are all reburied, and the ground sanctified anew, as all has been corrupted by the black magic that Grabbe condemns. Adler, it would seem, is now of Morr, and the one to ensure this is done.

Adler heals Elinor and Oppenheimer some of their wounds before we borrow a cart to carry the Lightning Stone back to the city. The storm howls ever louder as we walk, Adler and I pulling the cart. The thunder cracks deafen Oppenheimer and Elinor. All of us squint in the driving rain, and move slowly, until with Elinor’s keen eyes, the way is pointed out more clearly.

Once back in town, we find Kessler awaiting us. At first, I notice not the dwarf at his side, until it becomes clear that this is a friend of my companions; his name is Fergil. I don’t speak to him, as I know nothing of him as of yet; I assume he is a good man, but I will wait until I learn more of him.

Kessler tells us to dispose of the stone and then go and see the Burgermeister. We take it to Schulmann, Oppenheimer’s wizard friend, and the others relate our adventures to Fergil as we go.

Schulmann seems excited about the stone, and speaks much of the worsening storms. He says the stones have been causing him to have visions; he wants us to collect the rest of them. His visions are of a green fiend atop a throne, with a crown. Schulmann thinks the throne and the crown mean two more stones for us to gather. Where I come from, visions are much revered and heeded, so I know that this must be the case. Fergil wonders if the fiend being green means he’s a goblin. I know only that the storm rages, and the stones must be gathered.

We fill our bellies at the Inn before seeing the Burgermeister; it has been a long few days and I for one am achingly hungry.

When we see the Burgermeister, he looks far away more refreshed than the last time, cleaned up and all. It’s a shame Adler has to tell him of how his lady friend’s body was used by the necromancer to raise all the dead. We assure him her body will be laid to rest once more. The Burgermeister seems to take it well — he hands out an extra 25 silver for us all for the work we’ve done. He tells Kessler to arrange a meeting with some of the big men in town, and offers us some workers to help rebury the bodies.

We depart, and each go our own ways with an agreement to meet up later.

I go to the herb woman, Hildett, for a healing draught that heals some of my wounds up right. Then, I head to the armorer where I buy a suit of brigandine with my share of the silver. After, I go to the Inn to rest.

In the night, my bad tooth persists, but it thankfully heals during my second night of rest.

Over the next few days, I help in the burying of the bodies, a grisly task that needs be done. Fergil with his dwarf strength, and I as well are fine in the rain, but the others get a bit sick as we finish up the job.

The storm seems more and more intense, and even worse, the granary is destroyed, and the townspeople begin to riot in fear and hunger. We try to help keep the peace in town. Kessler summons us to the Burgermeister once more.

When we get to his office, a country farmer sits with him. He calls himself Gubo Ackerland, from south of Stormdorf. He tells of being robbed of livestock in the night, along with the all the other farmers near him. With the grain shortages, this does not bode well. Our help is wanted in catching the thieves.

Oppenheimer, perhaps with talk of goblins fresh in his mind, tells us of the sneakiness of Night Goblins. Fergil also mentioned that when he was in the south, he had bloody dealings with goblins as well.

The Burgermeister tells us we will each be paid 50 silver for our work! Adler asks us if we will each give up 5 silver of our money to hire Franz Bieber, a tracker in the country, who may be able to find a goblin lair if it should exist.

The only other hint the farmer gives us is that there is a bad, rotting vegetable smell in the air around midnight each night of the robberies.

We head south, with Franz Bieber and a Spaniard named Roderigo who smells of old ale and stays close on Elinor’s heels. On the way to the Ackerland farm, we pass a place where Bieber says the lightning crashes more than usual: Tempest Knap. The people all stay away from it. It is two hours north of the farm, and we keep moving.

Once we get to the Ackerland farm, we see cattle in the fields. In the kitchen, we meet Meg, Gubo’s wife, a passel of children and a shivering sheepdog. We begin to eat supper, and mid-meal Bieber rises and goes outside to look around. Oppenheimer follows. After a bit of time passes, we hear a huge crash of thunder, enough to shake our resolves.

Bieber and Oppenheimer come in — Oppenheimer was struck by the lightning! Adler wraps some of his burns, and he and Bieber head back outside once more. Fergil leaves to look around the cow shed. He finds a strange looking vegetable pod. The smell of it almost causes Bieber to swoon. It is mighty strange, and we wonder if it isn’t a stink bomb thrown by the goblins to make all the people sleep while they’re robbed. Elinor fashions cloths for us all to wear about our mouths and noses so as not to breathe in the air from the pods, as we think we should see more of these pods.

We make a plan to catch the goblins this night, now that we know their secret. Fergil will go to the watchtower, as he can see well in the night, and may be able to catch the goblins out before they know we’re there. He will tell Oppenheimer, who waits below. Once Oppenheimer gets word, he will set off a light of some kind, which Adler, Elinor and I may see from the barn, where we watch with the door agar. Now, we wait…

Wanted Undead or Alive
Quest 08 - 02/20/11

From the Journal of Jerath Adler Jr.

It happened so fast that my mind could barely keep up with what was happening. In one moment, I was passing through the Garden of Morr. I had seen the hole under the wall, probably created by our simple traveling companion, Waltrout. I saw the black roses, wilting. I saw the damage to the center tomb, belonging to that of Olaus Stickhelm, the man who long ago vanquished the Vampire Count. And I saw at the far end of the yard, the mausoleum and the shed, possibly disturbed, meaning our missing Brother Grabé may be inside. But then the hands started ripping through the earth. And corpses of uncounted loved ones began to rise from their graves. I made a mad dash for the shed, screaming to my friends that they should not enter the Garden…

And then I awoke, as if from a dream. Standing at the top of the stairs seemingly before I had taken my first step into the Garden. I thought myself mad momentarily – maybe a sign that madness was hereditary, but then, as I regained my senses, I found that my hand was positioned upon a Statue of Morr. Another sign. A vision of forewarning, perhaps? To cross the Garden meant to invite the dead to walk.

Point taken.

I returned down the stairs to my friends, and attempted to fill them in on everything that had transpired. I must’ve been pretty convincing too, because they understood the plight at hand, and we decided it best to exit the Garden altogether and head back to Stromdorf for reinforcements. We returned to the inner sanctum, and found ourselves locked out by a vicious gate that seemed barred with a power even greater than the door itself. With some help from Oppenheimer (and I can only assume Morr), we were able to get the door open and escape down the dark tunnel to the daylight that still awaited us on the other side.

We had hoped to find Waltrout waiting for us on the other side, but there was still no sign of him. We began to make our way back to the river, when we suddenly heard his voice coming from the other side of the Wall. So he HAD gone through the hole and traveled into the Garden alone. Quickly, we called out for him, but we only heard whimpers, a sure sign that whatever had come for me in my dream was coming for him now.

We needed a plan quickly, and decided that the best way to assess the situation was to send Oppenheimer to the top of the wall where he could check out what was happening in the Garden. With a quick flash, he disappeared and then reappeared at the top of the dangerous wall, slicing himself on one of its many spikes. He peered down and saw that the crypt was indeed being attacked by three more of the undead, where Waltrout had most likely walled up. He shot at one of them, but could not gain their attention. In time, they would get into the crypt. It was up to us to try and stop them before they got through to Waltrout.

Moving with great speed, Elenore climbed through the hole created by Waltrout, followed by Loreli and then myself. We certainly had their attention now as we were now easier targets for them. As we headed towards the crypt to free Waltrout, we continued to fire on the zombies, hoping to take them out before they could reach us. Oppenheimer stayed high up on the wall, making sure that no more undead rose to our presence.

And it was a good thing that he did, because before long, he yelled to us that the dead were indeed beginning to emerge, just as my vision had shown me. Oppenheimer quickly leapt from his perch to the tomb in the center of the Garden, where he was met by a group of newly re-animated corpses. However, before they could fully pull him down, he again shifted through the air nearly to our group, which had, by that time, made it to the mausoleum. We counted hundreds of dead beginning to rise, and it was clear to us that we had no other option but to do what Waltrout had done – barricade ourselves within the mausoleum.

But nothing is ever easy, and as I said above, Oppenheimer had shifted through space NEARLY to our group. If he had reached us, we could have gotten inside without any worries, but for some reason, he ended up in the center of a group of the creatures. You could see from the look on his face that his spell has somehow misfired, and he had not ended up where he wanted to be. With quick thinking, Loreli rushed into the group headlong, grabbing the wizard by his cloak, and pulled him out with incredible strength. I still wonder what secrets that peasant woman holds.

During this time, Elenore and I worked towards making a torch that we could use inside the mausoleum. With some of the alcohol from my medical kit, we were able to fashion something quickly, and with Oppenheimer safely in our grasp, we pushed into the Crypt, closing out the outside world without even a second thought.

As our eyes adjusted, we found ourselves enclosed within a room of bones – a chamber more than likely very significant to the religion of Morr. In the corner of the room, we also saw Waltrout, but he panicked and rush down a set of stairs towards the back of the room. I could not blame him for his fear. I, myself, though a barber surgeon for many years, found myself facing such terrible things that even I had a hard time holding myself together.

Things got even worse at that very moment when four skeletons began to re-animate before our very eyes. Using bits of armor and weapons around the room, they were even more formidable foes than the zombies outside. Finding little room to run, we decided to stand our ground and face these dark creatures. We concentrated our attacks on one skeleton at a time, hoping to reduce their numbers. I worked as hard as I could to coordinate the attack, guarding the group’s back and distracting the skeletons as we made blow after blow against these undead warriors. In such close quarters, Oppenheimer gave up on magic, and instead, concentrated his efforts in a more physical fashion – with the brunt force of his staff. Loreli used a bone she had picked up off the ground, while Elenore attempted to take a shot with her pistol.

The fight was long, but we were beginning to fight back the tide. Two had fallen, leaving us with only two left. However, the fates were against us when those original two rose again! It was a nightmare that I wished to wake from. We doubled our efforts, fighting off the fear and the exhaustion, and again, bashed the two skeletons into dust, leaving us with only two left.

Another fell in time, leaving us with just one final monstrosity. I remember the following moment clearly because of what I saw next. Elenore locked the creature’s gaze, and for a second, nothing moved. It was as if the room had become frozen as she attempted to subvert this monster’s very actions. It backed away from her, and while she had it distracted, Oppenheimer shot a magic dart at it, and it crumbled to dust.

I shook my head. All of this was almost too much to take in. My nerves were frayed, but I needed to pull it together. Elenore attempted to comfort me, but I was beyond any comfort by this time.

We then thought it best to send Loreli down the stairs to scout ahead while the rest of us barricaded the door to the crypt. During this time, I also discovered a necklace with a Raven on it – more than likely a symbol belonging to the Priest of Morr. Seeing as how Morr had basically saved my life with a vision, I thought it best to put the necklace on. Loreli then re-emerged from the stairway with news that there was another chamber below, and that Waltrout was indeed down there, cowering in the corner. We decided it best that we should head down together, but with Oppenheimer in front, as Waltrout seemed to have an affection for the “magician.”

We were rewarded for our patience and planning as Waltrout responded well to Oppenheimer’s presence. We put Waltrout in Elenore’s care as we explored the chamber. We discovered a holy book, next to a loaf of black bread and green cheese. There were also a number of side rooms, one containing a statue of Death wielding a scythe, one a dresser of robes, another some wine and beer, and finally, a watering well. Elenore thought it best to grab some rope from the well as we descended upon the final set of doors.

As we opened one of the last two remaining doors, we discovered a terrible sight – the body of Brother Grabé inside of a coffin. But worse yet, standing over his body was the re-animated corpse of the woman from my dreams the night before (not to mention Philip Adler’s dreams as well.) She was still wearing the purple dress and the pendant, just as I had seen her. But this was not Madriga. No… it couldn’t be. Rather, it was the necromancer Lazarus Mourn, reborn into her body. He was using her vessel to remove the life from Grabé’s body. I could see that he was very near death, and needed immediate medical care.

But numbers were in our favor. We had this madman cornered, when suddenly, barreling through the door came the skeleton corpse of none other than Olaus Stickelm, wielding a large blade and a shield that bristled with electrical energy. Mourn’s control could be keenly felt as the enormous undead form slashed quickly at Oppenheimer. I watched as the blade went deep into his flesh, and suddenly, the air in the room grew even colder as something seemed to change in the Wizard. He backed away from Olaus, and with a quick flash, he was suddenly beside Mourn, struggling with him. I wanted to help him in stopping the necromancer, but I knew I could not leave Elenore and Loreli and Waltrout to confront the skeleton alone. Again, I aided in keeping them as safe as I could, trying to confuse and bewilder the beast with my movements.

Suddenly, Waltrout stepped away from the group, ripping open his shirt, revealing strange symbols all over his skin. He screamed something about being “ready” for Lazarus. Was he working with him this entire time, or somehow duped to do this madman’s business? Just as I thought it might be prudent to knock out Waltrout before he could do any real damage, Elenore stepped forward, locking eyes with him just as she had done with the skeleton, and just like before, the man beckoned to her will, joining us in fighting this great threat!

Which is when it struck me. The pendant. Around Madriga’s neck was a pendant that MUST contain the essence of Mourn. It was the only explanation that made sense. I told the rest of the group what had occurred to me as we dodged blow after blow from the skeleton attacking us, but it seemed to me as if this had already occurred to Oppenheimer, which is why he had moved in on the necromancer so quickly.

Upon telling Elenore, she thought she might try to sneak up on Mourn to steal the pendant, but alas, he saw her coming and snapped at her. Loreli and I continued to keep Stickelm busy as Oppenheimer and Elenore flanked Mourn, who’s spell was very nearly complete. When suddenly, Oppenheimer landed an incredible blow on Lazarus, which caused Mourn’s body to expel a foul smoke into Oppenheimer’s face, forcing him to breathe it in. Whatever it was twisted Oppenheimer’s very arm, turning it into a gnarled mess, but that did not stop him from continuing to fight! He kept a tight hold of the body, refusing to let go.

And that’s when something went off.

Something about the ooze had cost Lazarus whatever last bit of energy he had, and Madriga’s body split in two! Just like that, her body fell to the ground, quickly followed by Stickelm’s form. The necromancer had been disbanded from the body, and any control he had was gone.

But still, the amulet remained. Oppenheimer seemed to have a plan, and commanded me to grab Stickelm’s mighty shield. I asked him for what, and he responded by telling me that the shield was a LIGHTNING STONE. It hadn’t occurred to me during the battle, but now made total sense.

We rushed from the lower chamber back to the crypt’s door, and opened it revealing hundreds of undead bodies laying on the ground, no longer under the command of Mourn. Oppenheimer told me to throw the stone as far from the door as I could, and I did, watching as he then placed the amulet carefully on the stone. Not more than minute went by before a great lighting bolt struck the stone, destroying the amulet in the process! A great weight suddenly seemed to lift from the Garden, and the fear that had been coursing through my veins since we had entered this place was gone.

At which point I remembered Grabé and rushed to his side to make sure he would survive. When he saw the Garden, he began to weep.

I also made sure to take the time to look after Oppenheimer, who was in rough shape after taking Stickelm’s blade and breathing in Mourn’s smoke. It would be a long walk back to Stromdorf in this condition, so we decided to rest, trying to take in everything we’d done today. I overheard Waltrout explaining that he thought Mourn was his friend, only to discover his treachery during this, the final hour. He made the right decision in joining us, and proved that even the smallest of creatures has a part to play in the greater scheme of things.

At which point, I decided it best to quickly get my thoughts down on paper while I could. So much is going through my head, and I have never felt at peace as much as I do now, with this Raven necklace around my neck. Could the God of Death and Dreams give me the very answers I’ve been seeking all my life?

There would be much to learn.

~ Adler, Jr.

Here to Serve...

It has certainly been an eventful journey into Stromdorf, to say the least. Well, I looked forward to this trip in the hope for some excitement, and I got it, as well as meeting a few new acquaintances. And what a way to meet – dead bodies rising from their resting places! After helping to put them down again, and for good, I found a bed waiting for me at the inn, although my sleep was more restive than restful. I was awoken – although still tired – by the inn owner who told of a message waiting for me from the Captain of the Guard, Kressler, if I would walk to the Town Hall to meet him. It was surprising, but then again, nothing seems to be commonplace on this journey. Perhaps this will be some sort of opportunity to help me get away from that dreary, boring house.

I head down to breakfast. I can see some of my fellows from last night, but I stick to the shadows to break my bread; I don’t truly know them, after all. The mood in the room seems subdued after the terrors of last night, and I can’t say I’m shocked. I hear snatches of conversations regarding the rumors of a Vampire Army coming to town to avenge the death of a Vampire Count killed long ago – by Olaus Stickhelm, if I remember correctly. I frankly expected more from city people. It seems they need to tell themselves something to account for what their eyes saw.

When the time comes to leave, I find that the fighters I helped last night received the same message to meet Captain Kressler, so we set off together. The magician, Oppenheimer, seems a bit daft, staring off into the rain. Dr. Adler has to rouse him before we can leave.

On the way, the magician does a trick to keep the rain from pelting us so very wetly. I notice, but keep quiet. We pass the time walking by making a stronger acquaintance amongst ourselves, and I meet the woman of the group, formerly too ill to be moved, Eleanor. They seem full of exciting stories of adventures, but I reserve judgment. Especially when the magician tells me that he’s a wizard. Being included in this meeting is interesting. I wonder if it will be an opportunity, or just a disappointment to nurse in my breast on the way back home.

When we reach Town Hall, Captain Kressler invites us to meet the Burghermeister, Philip Adler, for a special task. Now this could be very interesting.

We reach the Burghermeister’s office, to find him slumped in his chair, mooning over a small portrait of a woman in a purple dress. He tells us her name is Madriga, and I suppose she’s dead, as she apparently rose from the grave in his dream last night to haunt him. Dr. Adler reveals that he dreamt of her last night, too.

Kressler says someone named Lazarus Morn is responsible, although he was burned at the stake in town last year.

I know a thing or two about the dead who walk, and I tell them all so. The Burghermeister may be haunted by this girl, but the doctor doesn’t know her. He is not being haunted – his dreams have meaning beyond this – a prophecy. I tell them of the God Mor, who keeps the dead, dead. The Burghermeister wants us to find the local priest of Mor, Grabbé, so that he may learn of his opinion on this. We are told to travel to the Garden of Mor to fetch him, and given 50 silver each!

As we walk out, another magician comes to speak to Oppenheimer. He talks of a stone and two visions – one with the Madriga girl, and one of a hero decorated with dragons. When Eleanor mentions that the vision of Madriga is like the doctor’s, the magician becomes loud. I back away. He keeps mentioning something called a Lightning Stone, claiming it has to do with it all. The hero the magician keeps mentioning reminds me of the hero Olaus Stichhelm, who happens to have a statue standing in the town square, but I wait until he’s gone to tell the others. He is the very same who defeated the Vampire Count, who everyone was talking of this morning in the inn. Seems strange he keeps coming up. I tell them all of this while we walk to the Garden of Mor.

While we travel, it starts to seem as though we’re being followed. It turns out to be a simple man from the town, ragged and stinking. I try to run him off but he just laughs stupidly. I think that we have no time for this, but they keep trying to ask him questions. He is thrilled with the wizard’s magic, but the wizard seems to think of him as I do. His name is Waltrout and his mouth flops like a fish. I walk on ahead.

Then I hear him say that the younger children throw rocks at him. There’s no reason for any to be throwing rocks, especially at someone who cannot fight back. It isn’t right. The wizard keeps refusing to do a magic trick for Waltrout. I see to it that he changes his mind. He writes Waltrout’s name is sparkling light, and Waltrout and I both thank him. When we resume our journey, Waltrout follows us.

The road finally ends at a river, burbling blackly. Waltrout shows us a bronze bell we can use to call for the priest, but the priest does not come. Waltrout is upset – the priest usually comes. The wizard travels across the river in a blur to reach the raft moored there. It takes him some time to bring it back, and then the woman Eleanor and I quickly row our party ashore.

There, we find a wall, high, gray and strong, with a tunnel resting beyond a gate. Oppenheimer notes that the cemetery has a lightning rod, which is odd. He thinks there is a lightning stone here.

We cross through the gate, into the tunnel, which is guarded by a raven of Mor. And flanked by two statues of bone. The tunnel is icy and dark as winter, but the wizard creates a light to see by. The darkness seems almost…angry at the light. I shake my head. Silly.

Runes are carved on the walls. Oppenheimer tells us that these keep the light away. At the end of the tunnel is a door, with a black pillar to one side, and a white one to the other.

We notice that Waltrout is no longer with us. We call for him, but there is no answer. I hope no ill has befallen him, but I believe I hope in vain.

The door opens to a temple area, with unlit torches on the walls. The wizard lights them all, but something happens when he does…a freeze enters the room, chilling us all. The holy water even freezes solid.

An embalming chamber is ahead of us, with three open coffins, and a door beyond.

Without warning, three figures, one from each coffin, sits up. They clamber from their boxes and, moaning, approach us. They are recently dead, but still they fight. There is a man, an older woman and a girl child.

The doctor Adler takes us a stance to protect us all, and the woman Eleanor tries to hit one with a crossbow, but misses. The wizard tries a spell while I shoot the little girl’s arm at the shoulder with my bow. It hangs, dangling, but still she shuffles to us. The doctor continues his efforts to protect us as Eleanor’s shot goes wide. A burst of magic flies from the wizard’s staff and hit the little girl, but still, she attacks the doctor. He falls to the ground as she gnaws on him.

I move back towards the unopened door, taking a running shot at the dead girl while I move. I miss, but when I plant my feet and refocus, I am able to shoot her down.

With her down, Eleanor buries a bolt into the dead man furthest away. He takes a bite of her while the dead man lunges for the wizard and misses. The doctor, his arm no longer being set upon by the dead girl, stands. He continues to protect us with a guarded stance.

I try to slay the one attacking Eleanor, but I miss. Seeking a way out, I kick down the unopened, locked door. My teeth rattle, but the door is opened.

The wizard takes down the dead man and Eleanor wounds the dead woman. She attempts to bite at the wizard, but she misses. Adler, seeing an opportunity, punches the dead woman square in the face, probably bruising his knuckles. She is caught off guard, and it lets me take a measured shot with my short bow, knocking her down, and quiet, unmoving.

Now that they are vanquished, we move towards the newly opened door, which reveals the Garden of Mor. We know we cannot enter the Garden, as only mourners in the company of a priest of Mor can cross that sanctified ground. We begin to debate what to do when we hear a groaning behind us. The dead girl has risen again!

Oppenheimer injures her with another magical bolt from his staff, and with my short bow, I shoot her square in the eyes, whipping her head back on her shoulders. Eleanor delivers the killing blow. We know we must do something more to end their wretchedness, and Adler and Eleanor rush to grab lit torches from the wall. They set the bodies on fire, and Oppenheimer calls the wind forth to fan the flames.

We think all is as well as can be expected, until the man rises, still alit, groaning. Adler steps back and snaps at him with his sling. Eleanor also falls back and damages it with her short bow. Oppenheimer sends another dart of magic, making the zombie fall again. Now, we stand and watch the flames until the bodies have turned to ash.

Once we can talk again, Adler says that he should be the one to step into the Garden, as the prophecies were delivered to him in a dream. He uses the iced font water to bless himself, and Oppenheimer does some kind of protective spell. Adler mounts the stairs that lead to the garden. A space of time passes with nothing happening, until we hear Adler’s garbled yell, and that is all…

Trial by Fire
Quest 06 - 01/16/11

From the Journal of Jerath Adler Jr.

From our darkest moments we sometimes find the light that will lead us from that same darkness. The path is never easy, and I dare say, it is almost always unpredictable, because when you least expect it, there it is, before you, whether you want it or not.

I speak of the previous day and night, a night I am so glad to see for only hours ago the very place I’m writing from was attacked by the undead. Mad, you say? Drunk on Thunderwater Ale, perhaps? Perhaps not, says I. But again, I rush ahead. Let’s go back to the beginning.

After delivering the lightning stone to the Church of Sygmar for safekeeping, we exited to go our separate ways when confronted by Captain Arno Kessler and his men, demanding to know what’s been going on. My comrades and I looked at each other, tired after a long night, not wanting to have to deal with this now. So Furgil took it upon himself to chat up the Captain, telling him a small white lie – that the merchant we had been searching for fell into the hands of the beastmen on the outskirts of town (rather than being taken by the Holtz Clan, as we came to discover.) We had hoped to keep the Holtz Family out of any legal matters, telling them that as long as they behaved from here on out that this might disappear.

But that would not be the case. Kessler is a keener man than he seems. Arno figured that Copplepot poisoned the merchant and Raynor left with him that night. We played “dumb,” not filling in the gaps which we had learned about this very same night. Instead, Furgil turned the subject to Tarth, whose body still remained in the swamps. He insisted that we get a hunting party together to search and destroy the remaining beastmen while recovering the body in the process. Arno agreed, but insisted that the group go out first thing in the morning, when Franz Bieber would be back in town. Turns out that Bieber is a bit of an expert in the layout of the marshlands and would be an incredible asset.

Kessler finally leaves us for the night, and again, as we are about to depart, Schulman, the Wizard, approached, telling us that he has been looking for THAT very stone. He also revealed that there are many lightning stones that need to be recovered, and this is only the first. He asked Von Oppenheimer to go back and retrieve the stone from the Church so that he may study it in more detail. He agreed, and we finally all depart. I headed for a shave (and some healing) from Rolf, the local barber-surgeon, while Furgil agreed to return the cart and mule we had rented earlier.

However, Oppenheimer’s night would not be over. Not only would he recover the Stone for Schulman, but he would confide in Kessler the truth about Holtz and Copplebot. He figured that if he can keep the rest of us out of it that it will spare us any possible repercussions. He even agreed to be a witness in their trial. Seemed routine enough… but somehow, things never go as you plan.

The next morning, we all proceeded downstairs to find a guard already waiting for us. We believed that he would be taking us into the swamps, but to our utter surprise, he mentions that Bieber returned last night, and he brought back the body of a Dwarf. We assumed the worst, but he told us that the Dwarf was still alive! The silence following that statement was deafening, considering the last time we had seen Tarth, she was being struck down by Izka. But I feared that this might be some foul form of magic, and took my companions aside to reveal to them Tarth’s secret. I would usually never reveal secrets of my patients, but in a case like this, I needed them to know that Tarth was actually a female dwarf, and that if we discovered anything other than that, then we may be being duped.

But that’s just what we found at Hildet’s. A local midwife and spinster, Hildet was taking care of our friend, who had most certainly seen better days. Tarth was alive, and though it would be months before she would ever wield a weapon again, she was here with us. However, I will admit that this miracle still confounded me. How could she still be alive after everything we’d seen? The rest of the group didn’t seem to share my skepticism, however, and we proceeded to get her treated by the local doctor, Heitleib Schneider. Furgil remained to watch over her care as Oppenheimer and myself proceeded to the trial, arranged by Kessler for this afternoon.

Arno, acting as prosecutor, presented his case to Gerber, the affluent head of the Tanners Guild. When we arrived, the place was packed to see the Holtz Clan and Copplebot, shackled, on trial for their lives. I noticed that Marie was not there, and wondered if she somehow escaped the law when it came for them.

Oppenheimer is called to the stand, and the Holtz are very unhappy with him. In fact, as he presents his side of the case, Otto suddenly shouted, “I’d like a trail by combat!” Seeing as how Oppenheimer is a Wizard belonging to a very prestigious college, I couldn’t imagine he’d accept, but he does! Something about the Gods guiding his hands because the truth is on his side. It’s not that I doubt the Wizard’s abilities, but one on one against a man like Otto?? He’s smart enough to ask for a Champion, but no one steps forward, meaning that Oppenheimer is on his own.

We exit to the yard where Otto is given a sword, and Oppenheimer is permitted to use his staff. The first round doesn’t go so well as the Wizard seems to missed his shot and Otto took advantage, pummeling him to the ground. I dared not intervene, and tried to stay close, in the case that he went down and needed immediate medical attention. I did notice during the match that a young woman was attempting to help Oppenheimer with tips about where to strike Otto. I didn’t recognize her, but she seemed to want to help him, and he needed as much help as he could get at that moment.

And that’s when the Gods truly did guide his hand, because at that moment, from the crowd stepped Eduardo! He asked to be Oppenheimer’s champion, and Oppenheimer, seeing a message from the Heavens, accepted quickly, and removed himself from combat, seeking care from me. At first, I was a little worried about Eduardo’s vigor, seeing as he was stinking drunk at midday. But he held his own, lunging at Holtz with his rapier, hitting him! Oppenheimer recovered to watch, and cheered on this brash man who seemed to save his life without hesitation. He cheered even more when Eduardo’s blade penetrated Otto’s chest, impaling his heart. I could see the blood rush from his face as the metal pierced his torso. He knew as soon as the blade touched him that he was done for. The body fell silently. And then the crowd roared with approval.

Arno declared the trial over, and insisted that all the Holtz be hanged. Copplepot was also to be hanged, as they did indeed discover our merchant’s missing ring in the floorboards of her bakery. But before she hanged, she called out, in a voice so raspy and unearthly that even my skin stirred, “I’ll come back for you!”

With that out of the way, Oppenheimer and I returned to town, meeting up briefly with Furgil and Franz, who were planning to head out to the Holtz Farm to assess the beastmen situation. After our trying day, we decided to sit this one out, and return to the Thunderwater Inn for some rest. Oppenheimer, feeling rather pleased to be alive, afforded Eduardo a room at the Inn and a meal with all he could drink that night. Eduardo had never been happier.

If the night had ended here, it would have been an incredible day. But as I mentioned above, only in our darkest moments can we find the path into the light. And it was only with the night falling down upon Stromdorf that we would confront the fears that plagued our minds with their manifestation in our world.

After recovering the Ring from Kessler, I retired to my room to care for Oppenheimer (who was still ailing from his fight.) We figured Furgil and Franz would not be returning tonight, and that this would be a good opportunity to catch up on some much needed sleep. As I closed my eyes and drifted away, a strange dream came to me. I heard a voice, and it said, “It wasn’t Tarth’s time, but it was time for the rest of the Holtz Clan!” I awake, but instead of being anxious and afraid, I am somehow comforted by these words, as if being guided by something greater than myself. My mind turns to Morr – the God of Death, Sleep, and Dreams – a God who has been on my mind in a growing capacity since my recent travels. Is this a sign? A vision? Something even deeper…?

Before I can spend too much time thinking about this, I heard a noise from outside the room, and threw on some clothes before exiting into the hallway. Oppenheimer was up as well, and went to awake Schulman. I traveled to the end of the hall, where to my surprise, I found the young woman from the trial kneeling down, peering into the main room of the Inn. She had a short bow, and seemed very comfortable with it. I went to introduce myself, and she shushed me as the front door of the Inn burst open, and before my very eyes, I watched as the dead walked the Earth.

The Holtz Family had returned, as Copplebot had promised. She was with them, swarming the Inn quickly. The keeper, Brenner, and his sons were there, trying to fight them off, but they seemed unstoppable. Lorelai (finally introducing herself) took a shot at Otto, hitting him right between the eyes. He fell over… dead… again?! If these are the living dead, then I knew something they would be susceptible to – FIRE. I raced back to my room, alerting Oppenheimer that the Holtz Clan had returned, and grabbed my medical supplies. With some quick alcohol and bandages, I could furnish Lorelai with burning arrows, which should eliminate the threat that much quicker.

But we were swarmed as these creatures seemed to take a lot more damage than our usual foes. They came up the stairs after us, and grabbed onto our limbs. Raynor Holtz, a man alive only hours before, had his re-animated flesh around my legs. I saw no other choice than to set him on fire.

As I did, he relinquished his grip, and both Lorelai and I were able to escape. Oppenheimer, from the end of the hall, used the winds to blow Raynor into the rest of the Zombie group, also setting them ablaze. It was a grand scheme, except that the Inn started to burn as well.

With little room left between us and them, we decided that a daring second story escape from the Inn may be in need, and both Lorelai and I gathered our things and leaped out, leaving Oppenheimer to deal with Schulman, who still had not come out of his room. But then, another thought had occurred to Oppenheimer – Elenore! She was also staying at the Inn, and in her weakened state, had also not come out of her room. He raced to her, barging into her room, dressing her quickly, and helping her out the window to my waiting arms below. I’d like to think that this was a Fairy Tale moment, but alas, no Fairy Tale I know has the re-animated dead hunting you down while it rains bloody hell outside and you can’t hear a thing because the thunder is SO deafening.

After situating Elenore in a barn nearby, Lorelai and I raced back to the entrance of the Inn where some of the town’s guard had shown up to assist in the fight. We watched as the remaining burning zombies, still moving down the hall towards Oppenheimer, were murmuring his name. With little hope left, Schulman suddenly dashed from his room, yelling for Oppenheimer to get out of the way. As he did, Schulman’s washtub was pushed out into the hallway, and on the force of the winds, it was propelled down the hallway, killing the remaining zombies, and putting out the fire which was beginning to spread throughout the Inn.

And just like that, the dead had fallen. Again.

Seeing only this, the town guard proclaimed, “Schulman! Zombie Hunter!” Lorelai and I exchanged glances, and feebly smiled at each other. I can only hope that Furgil and Franz had had a better night’s sleep, when we suddenly got word that this isn’t the only supernatural occurrence in town. We raced to a nearby Professor’s home to find that his medical skeleton had also come to life, meaning that this may only be the beginning of our undead problems. Oppenheimer pegs the skeleton with a magical dart, and it falls, lifeless. Professor Köpfchen, so overly pleased with us, asked us to stay for tea, and we accepted, cause after a long night of fighting the living dead, nothing is better than a cup of herbal tea.

With sugar and cream.

And so, from the darkness, the path has presented itself. And it looks like I must follow.

~ Adler, Jr.

From the Diary of Elenore Frost
From the Diary of Elenore Frost

Having enjoyed keeping a diary to track my latest adventures and whereabouts, I decided to attempt to keep up with the recordings of my life while being ill from the icy waters of the river we attempted to cross a few days ago. I had thought I was making a speedy recovery, but alas, Dr. Adler informed me that I had caught The Chills and had to recover by being bed-ridden. The following are my recordings and observations from the past three days:

Day 1, 9:15 AM – I awoke this morning with a sore throat, hot to the touch but freezing in my bones. No matter what I tried, I could not get warm. Dr. Adler suggested bed rest and that perhaps I was relapsing after spending a good couple minutes in freezing water just a few nights ago. Pleased to report that the bags under my eyes from a sleepless night and the sticky perspiration that hung on me did not keep Eduardo Castillo Rodriguez from propositioning me again. Whether it was kindness or just the simple fact that he had not been with a woman in a very long time, the sentiment was appreciated.

Day 1, 11:48 AM – Tried to muster the energy to apply some rouge in the off chance that Mr. Rodriguez showed up to feed me soup. Alas, it was the maid, and she looked bored.

Day 1, 3:03 PM – All this sleep is making me tired.


Day 1, 11:22 PM – Dr. Adler just informed me that Tarth died heroically in battle earlier today, saving everyone else’s life in the process. This news saddens me, for although I was not particularly close to Tarth, he had always been a good fighter and easily the strongest in our group, and he expressed qualities of leadership and loyalty that were quite admirable. He will be missed.

Day 2, 7:43 AM – The servants bring me cold fish stew for breakfast. It’s possible they’re trying to kill me. On a more positive note, the color is returning to my cheeks, and I believe my strength is growing, which I tested by throwing the stew across the room.

Day 2, 10:39 AM – Tired. Throwing stew is really tiring.

Day 2, 2:05 PM – I am so bored I want to tear my eyes out.

Day 2, 6:16 PM – Supper was brought to me, and my linens were changed as well, and I was well-pleased by both these things. I am feeling stronger by the minute, despite some bad dreams during the day after I learned of Tarth’s passing, but it is to be expected. Death affects us all in different ways. I wish I had known Tarth better, and the same regret that lingers from the death of the servants at Lord Aschenberg’s estate returns to haunt me.

Day 2, 11:51 PM – The bad dreams continue to haunt me. I’d thought I was feeling better, but these dreams make me wonder if my delirium from yesterday’s fever has returned. I toss and turn and try to get comfortable.

Day 3, 12:17 AM – The wails of the undead wake me from my sleep. Is this real? Is this a nightmare? Is this my fever? While I’m trying to decide whether to go back to bed or not, Von Oppenheimer bursts into my room, dresses me hastily and then essentially tosses me out a second story window into the waiting arms of Dr. Adler while I see dead men and women, their flesh rotting off their bones, running around. Honestly, they must have put some opiates in my supper. I will remember to complain about this tomorrow to management.

Day 3, 12:42 AM – I have been huddled in this freezing barn for what feels like hours. If this is a dream or delirium from the fever, next time I would like to dream about fields of grass and sunshine rather than the undead and smelly barn animals.

Day 3, 1:16 AM – I am told that it is safe for me to go back to bed, that the undead have been vanquished, and that I no longer need to be afraid. For this, I am relieved. This nightmare should be over as soon as I wake up again in my warm bed. Also, and I’m sure this is just part of my feverish dream, but when did Tarth become alive again? And why is everyone referring to him as a “her”? Very odd. I need more sleep.

Into the Belly of the Beastmen

From the Journal of Jerath Adler Jr.

In my time as a barber surgeon, I have seen many things. I have seen lives reclaimed by the living, and I have seen death taking that which is not his. I have seen medical miracles, and I have seen limbs lost for lack of cleanliness. I have seen the incredible love of a close family, and I have seen the mighty devastations of war. Still, nothing prepares you for the moment when someone close to you perishes, and there’s nothing you can do to save them…

Less than a day ago, I recall our meeting with the Celestial Wizard, Schulman. Von Oppenheimer and he shared, how shall I put it – pleasantries. I found myself mused by their posturing, that is, until Oppenheimer mentioned our missing merchant. Schulman suddenly got angry, suspiciously so in my eyes, though Oppenheimer promised us that he was only bitter at our interruption over such a matter of only one man’s life. The Celestial Wizards look at a larger world picture, as I understand it, though I don’t completely agree, as one man’s life should be as important as the next. As we were departing, Oppenheimer mentioned the lighting strikes to the Church of Sygmar, and Schulman took great interest, remarking that ancient and deadly magics are at work in this area.

After our meeting, we found Furgil downstairs, with a much cleaner Eduardo Castillo Rodriguez. With his mind a little more refreshed, he recalled hearing a cart leaving around midnight of the night that our merchant disappeared. Based on the sound, he seemed to think they may have been heading towards the East Gate. He told us that he knows the Guard at the East Gate, and would further inquire on the matter.

With the night in full effect, we then retired, hoping that tomorrow would bring us more clarity (and less rain.)

I did not sleep well, haunted still by dreams of the beastmen and the demon that we somehow banished from this world. Will these visions ever leave me?

The next morning, we gathered for breakfast, and Eduardo joined us shortly thereafter with news. He told us that the Guard at the East Gate never saw a cart or white horse leave. He only saw Raynor Holtz leave that night, on the way back to his farm south of Stromdorf. With no other leads, we decided to pursue Holtz by heading down to his farm. Elenore decided it would be best for her to stay as she was not feeling up to the weariness of travel in the rain, and we agreed that it might be good to have her stay and keep watch within the town.

With the rain even worse today than yesterday, we purchased a cart and mule, and headed out of the city with yours truly at the reigns. We travelled miserably, until Oppenheimer was able to his use magics to keep the rain off of us. The mule seemed happier by this as well, and responded by moving a little more quickly towards, what we realized at that very moment, was the smell of smoke.

Before long, we came to the first farmstead, belonging to the Eigle Family. What was left of it was burning, and no life remained in this place. If there had been people or animals, they had been taken, and based on the cloven footprints, we knew it had to be beastmen. Our suspicions were proven correct when we found an 8-pointed star dabbed in blood, left in dung. Oppenheimer made sure to destroy this symbol of chaos before we returned to the road and travelled up the hill to the next farm, belonging to the Holtz Family.

Their farm was still intact, but out front were two men fighting. The argument grew quickly, and we soon learned that the threatening man was Tristan, presumably of the Eigle Farm, and he was yelling at Fritz, of the Holtz homestead. Before we knew it, Tristan had pulled a knife, and Tarth charged in, disarming him quickly. Tristan was upset about something, blaming Fritz for what had happened, and without his blade, now broke down in tears. Out of the farmhouse, more of the Holtz family appeared to comfort Tristan and take him to the adjoining barn. Otto Holtz then came out, and welcomed us to stay with them for a meal to discuss what has happened.

Upon entering the house, a strange feeling passed down my spine and goosebumps covered my skin. It wasn’t that I feared our hosts, but… something was not right. There was Otto, the father, Marie, the mother, Cousin Klaus (huge, and a little on the slow side), Fritz (whom we’d already met out front), Emelda (who took a distinct interest in Von Oppenheimer right away), little Otto (playing his mandolin), and the rest of the cousins and brothers. We also met Raynor, the farmer rumored to leave the town the night our merchant disappeared. Something in my mind led me to believe that this family may be … too closely related. If you understand my meaning.

Tarth got right to the point, as he — er, she — usually does, and asked about the white horse. Raynor’s eyes widened at the question, and Furgil went on to explain the full situation. At first, we got the cold shoulder, with Raynor telling us that they didn’t know anything. When asked about Tristan, he told us that Tristan was blaming them for the beastmen attack, which they had nothing to do with it. The room was still tense, but with nothing else to go on, Furgil and I excused ourselves and returned to the barn.

It wasn’t long before we were joined by Marie with Tarth and Von Oppenheimer in tow. She wanted to help us, and I convinced her that if her family is somehow involved in this, then WE are the people she should speak to in order to help them. She agreed, and led us into the marsh. Otto soon joined us. We were suspicious, and kept an open eye out for beastmen. After some time, we reached a rotten tree, leafless, known simply as the Hag Tree, covered in bones, furs, charms, etc. A place where it seemed many sacrifices had been made.

We remained still, and silent, at which point we noticed movement next to the tree. Marie called to it, and something emerged, cloaked in the shadows of the marsh. It spoke slow and thoughtful, and told us of Izka the Madtooth, who was coming to destroy the works of man. By nightfall, Stromdorf would fall to the beastmen, led by this hulking creature. For some time, it seemed as though the Holtz Family had been making sacrifices to the beastmen to keep them at bay, but over time, it was slowly becoming not enough, and they were growing more and more aggressive. Now, this Izka, armed with an artifact known as the Lightning Stone, would lead siege to the world we called home.

This could not stand.

The plan was crazy. But we had no choice. Raynor would be sent to town to warn them of the possible attack while we went to retrieve the Lightning Stone, and with the shadowed creature’s help, turn the beastmen against Izka. With a cart in tow, the four of us travelled into the swamp, knowing that this plan had little chance of success.

During our travels, Von Oppenheimer once again tried to control the rain with the wind, and though he had shown us on many occasions that he’s capable of such feats, when he did so this time, his face distorted, growing long and grotesque. He assured us that this is sometimes the side effects associated to his craft, but this was not natural. It wasn’t long before his face returned to its original state, but it continues to make me question exactly what it is that he is practicing. Of course, it didn’t even look like we’d make it out of the swamp alive, so it didn’t really matter at that moment.

We finally reached the Herd Stone, where we found beastmen everywhere. Atop the tall Herd Stone was the Lightning Stone, strapped down and out of our reach. Also standing between us and the Lighting Stone was the massive, 8 foot tall Izka. My breathe escaped me momentarily. There was no way that our party would be able to take down such a mighty force. Tarth disagreed, and saw this as the perfect moment for us to strike. With no other options available to us, we concocted a plan, and set it into motion.

If only we could have foreseen the consequences of our actions…

With the advantage of surprise, Von Oppenheimer cursed the Izka, and then Tarth rushed in and buried her axe into Izka’s rib cage, slicing down through its horn, chopping it clean off! Blood poured from the mutilated beast, it screaming with such ferocity as to turn us all ghostly. We backed Tarth up with as much force as we could muster, taking out smaller Ungor in the surrounding area. But she was soon mobbed by over 10 more beastmen. It was an amazing sight to see as she continued to strike back at them with her mighty axe, fighting off blow after blow. I could almost sense a smile under her mask as she was doing exactly what she was meant to do. Here she was, taking on a beast almost twice her size, while all of its underlings sliced away at her, yet she did not care. She was an Ironbreaker. And the radiance she displayed at that moment was heavenly to see.

Tarth then ripped her axe from the rip cage of Izka, and lined up the killing blow. We all watched, too far to be of any immediate help, as the axe cleaved the creature in two. But in its deathly final moments, Izka struck out at Tarth. The sight was as grisly as anything I have ever seen. Izka ripped into Tarth’s armor, penetrating it, and tore into her neck. Blood was everywhere, and before we could even comprehend what had happened, Tarth was dead.

In all the confusion, I was attacked and injured by one of the Ungor, but Furgil quickly backstabbed the beast, leaving us to make a very quick decision: do we leave the body of our friend here to save ourselves and the town, or do we attempt to take on the beastmen ourselves in vengeance for our friend’s sacrifice? We all knew we would never be able to take down the group ourselves, and decided then that we would come back for Tarth’s body as soon as we could (assuming we made it out of the swamp alive.)

Still, the Lightning Stone sat atop the Herd Stone, and we had to get it before the beastmen re-organized. They had fallen into a state of disarray with the sight of their leader destroyed, so again, we pressed the advantage. Von Oppenheimer attempted to use a cantrip with a little bit of re-assurance and guidance from myself to move the Lightning Stone from its perch. For as many times as I question his methods and motivations, I do find that his abilities help us in ways that none of us could ever accomplish on our own. The stone moved, and simply flew through the air into our arms. Seeing how lighting seemed to strike the stone every so often, we made a quick exit back into the swamp, leaving our friend behind, her sacrifice keenly felt with every breath we took.

It was a long run back through the swamp, but the beastmen did not pursue at first, having not seen us remove the Lightning Stone. We made it back to the Hag Tree, and saw only a glimpse of the shadowed creature there (known later to us as Fouldeath), bowing his head at our accomplished task. We continued on, finally reaching the Holtz Farm.

Von Oppenheimer only stopped momentarily, still needing to keep the stone moving. Furgil and I gathered our mule and cart, and had some last words with Marie about our missing merchant. Turned out that the merchant had indeed been sacrificed to the beastmen. The Holtz Family had been working with Copplepot in town, finding suitable sacrifices, in the form of wayward travelers. It was possible she may have the ring, as his body did not have it on him when it was delivered to them not so long ago.

With the beastmen in disarray, the Holtz Family promised us that there would be no more sacrifices, and with that, we raced to catch up with our Wizard, who still carried the artifact. We made it back to town soon after that, where we delivered the stone to the Church of Sygmar, one of the few places where the lighting strikes could be handled by the massive structure. After explaining the tale to Magnus, he agreed to keep it there for safety, but saw it as a cursed object that needed to be destroyed. Von Oppenheimer did not agree, and after some discussion, though disgruntled, Magnus decided to keep it there.

By this time, my own injuries combined with the loss of Tarth overtook me, and I abandoned the group to find help in the medical district. I could feel the nightmares coming again, and I needed to rest. Even if we had saved a town from destruction, and also saved ourselves in the process, the loss of one life was too much for me to handle.

Tomorrow would be another day, whether we wanted to face it or not.

~ Adler Jr.


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